A northwest Oklahoma City landmark — Founders Tower — is getting a new name and a new life as upscale housing. Bridgeport Development Group, which bought the 20-floor tower and surrounding 7.5 acres last year for $4.6 million, released plans Tuesday for converting the former office building into 68 condominiums. The building is being renamed "The 360 at Founders Plaza" and will include construction of an adjoining office building and hotel. "The name 360 says it all," said Jim Meyer, chief executive officer of Bridgeport Development. "Not only will our residents have a beautiful 360-degree view of Oklahoma City, but the name also encompasses the complete elegance of what we're offering. From a fitness facility to a concierge service to restaurants and room service, tenants at the 360 can assume all the creature comforts that come with a robust and elegant lifestyle." Mark Livingston, president of Bridgeport Development, said the $50 million development will include the most extensive overhaul of the tower at 5900 Mosteller Drive since it was built in 1963. About $2 million is being spent on replacing all of the tower's original dark pane glass windows with new energy-efficient, lighter-colored turquoise windows, Livingston said. A new cooling tower is set to replace older heating and air systems later this month. Livingston said the project also includes all new electrical wiring and plumbing. "I've always admired the building in the sense it was unique," Meyer said. "I like the circular structure and the design — it stood alone along Northwest Expressway. It was the very first suburban office park in northwest Oklahoma City. It was a risky deal back then. But it worked." The same couldn't be said when Meyer bought the tower last year. Office occupancy was down to 50 percent, though the tower still boasted a top floor rotating restaurant, Nikz, and longtime ground floor favorite, Queen Ann's Cafeteria. But with 6,500-square-foot floor plates, Meyer concluded the tower was no longer feasible as anything but small, low-rent office space or housing. "Today, people are looking for more conventional space for offices than what this building offers," Meyer said. "It would have taken a significant amount of money to take it from C- to B-Class office space. And it could have never been an A Class building." The same building was deemed ideal for housing. Meyer said the layout should allow for up to three balconies for each unit. Plans call for four units per floor, ranging from 1,275 to 2,100 square feet. Prices will range between $200,000 and $600,000. The first units should be available by May, Meyer said. While all office tenants have already left, Nikz remains open on the 20th floor, though the restaurant's lease is awaiting renewal. "We're working with them to stay while we're going through construction," Meyer said. "I wouldn't mind keeping them. But we also have a lot of other people interested in that space." Queen Ann's has six years remaining on its lease, and Meyer said the cafeteria's lease will be honored until it expires. Meyer said Covenant Brothers men's clothing is an existing tenant that fits the future plans for The 360 and will move into new space on the first floor. Meyer also wants to add a jewelry store, cleaners and banking center to the building's future retail mix. A two-story parking garage will be added as part of the development to serve not just the tower but also a planned hotel and office building. Meyer said the two-story office building, to be anchored by Spirit Bank, will replace the former Continental Theater, which was razed earlier this year. The hotel, likely five stories, is pending a feasibility study. The W Hotels, Hyatt and Hotel Indigo all have expressed interest in the development, Meyer said. "They've all approved the site. ... I'm doing a site study to make sure the economics work," Meyer said. Designs for The 360 at Founders Plaza are by Richard Brown, whose portfolio includes the MAPS renovation of the Civic Center Music Hall. The contractor is VanHoose Construction, and financing was provided by Stillwater National Bank. Jim Meyer, along with his brother Mark, founded Bridgeport Holdings LLC in 1998. The company has a portfolio of six subsidiary companies that include construction, housing, lending, a foster child center and publishing house.
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New windows can be seen on the first few floors of The 360 at Founders Plaza, which is being converted from offices to housing by Bridgeport Development. By Steve Lackmeyer, THE OKLAHOMAN